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This study examined “Corporate Governance in the Nigerian University system; managements’ perception of the role of Internal Audit”. Data were gathered through the administration of structured questionnaire to a sample of 222 Management Staff (Principal Officers), Accountants and Internal Auditors of selected universities in the South East geo-political zone of Nigeria due to proximity and cultural affinity derived from work force. The data were analyzed using ANOVA, Multiple and Simple regressions. The result shows that management of Nigerian universities perceives internal audit function and efficiency either positively or adversely. The extent of their positive perception enhances management control activities while an adverse management perception has a negative effect on management control activities in Nigerian universities. The role of Internal Audit in Nigerian University governance is very vital; hence the centrality of Internal Audit in University governance particularly in the financial governance and performance of Nigerian Universities. The rating of management support to internal audit functions is moderate in Nigerian universities. Management support to internal audit functions has a remarkable effect on the performance of internal audit in the university system. Furthermore, some internal audit efficiency factors like, independence, integrity, objectivity of audit staff, value added audit activities, interpersonal relationship among management, auditor and other stakeholders, professional status and quality of audit staff, influence the level of management support of internal audit in Nigerian universities. The research recommends that the Federal Government through Auditor General of the Federation and the National Universities Commission should constantly create awareness to management of Universities on the function and need for internal audit in the system of control in Nigerian Universities. In addition, internal auditors should be allowed to have access to assets, books, records and other relevant documents or information which they deemed necessary for the purpose of their audit assignment. Management should also improve on their level of support to Internal Audit functions and also give due attention to their reports and recommendations.


Title page                                                                                                                                             i

Declaration                                                                                                                                          ii

Certification                                                                                                                                         iii

Dedication                                                                                                                                       iv

Acknowledgements                                                                                                                           v

List of Tables                                                                                                     vi

Abstract                                                                                                                                               vii


CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION                                                                              

1.1         Background to the Study                                                                                                    1

1.2         Statement of the Problem                                                                                                  5

1.3         Objectives of the Study                                                                                        6

1.4         Research Questions                                                                                                             7

1.5         Research Hypotheses                                                                                           7

1.6         Significance of the Study                                                                                                    8

1.7         Scope of the Study                                                                                                               9

1.8         Limitations of the Study                                                                                                      10

1.9         Definition of Terms                                                                                                              10


2.1         Conceptual Frame Work                                                                                                     13

2.1.1     Brief historical development of auditing                                                          13

2.1.2     Definition of auditing                                                                                                          14

2.1.3     Definition of internal audit                                                                                                 14

2.1.4     Who is an internal auditor?                                                                                               18

2.1.5     Functions of internal audit                                                                                                 19

2.1.6     Internal audit charter                                                                                                      20

2.1.7     Internal audit as part of internal control                                                                         20

2.1.8     Internal audit                                                                                                                        22

2.1.9     Essential elements of internal audit                                                                                 22

2.1.10   Duties of internal auditor                                                                                                   28

2.1.11   Rights and powers of the internal auditor                                                                      29

2.1.12 External and internal auditors compared                                                           29

2.1.13   A brief development of university education in Nigeria                                32

2.1.14 Corporate governance in the Nigerian university system                               34

2.1.14   An overview of management and Internal audit in Nigerian university               38

2.1.15 Objectives and scope of internal audit in the Nigerian universities                    41

2.1.16 Internal audit as a management control tool in Nigerian universities               43

2.1.17 Factors that impede internal auditor’s performance as an effective

               management control tool in Nigerian universities                                                 47

2.1.18 Management support as a determinant of internal audit efficiency                         49

2.1.19 Managements’ perception of the role of internal audit.                                 52

2.2         Theoretical Frame work                                                                                                      57

2.2.1     Theories of auditing                                                                                                            57

2.2.2     The policeman theory                                                                                          57

2.2.3     The lending credibility theory                                                                             58

2.2.4     The theory of inspired confidence (theory of rational expectation)

Limperg (1932) addressed both the demand and the supply

           for audit service                                                                                                        58

2.2.5     Agency theory                                                                                                       59

2.2.6     Institutional theory                                                                                                              61

2.2.7     Complexity theory                                                                                                               62

2.3         Empirical Review                                                                                                                  62

2.4         Gap in Empirical Review                                                                                                     67


3.1         Research Design                                                                                                                   68

3.2         Area of Study                                                                                                                        68

3.3         Population                                                                                                                            69

3.4         Sample Size and Sampling Techniques                                                             71

3.5         Sources of Data                                                                                                     76

3.6         Instrument for Data Collection                                                               76

3.7         Validity of the Instrument                                                                                                  77

3.8         Reliability of the Instrument                                                                                              78

3.9         Model Specification                                                                                                             79

3.10       Method of Data Analysis                                                                                                    81


4.1         Descriptive Statistics                                                                                                           83

4.1.1     Level of management supports for internal audit among

Federal, State and Private Universities in Nigeria                                                         83

4.1.2     Management’s support of internal audit and internal audit

Performance in Nigerian universities                                                                85 Internal audit efficiency factors and level of management

 support of   internal audit functions                                                                 87                

4.1.4     Effectiveness of internal audit in enhancing management

control activities in Nigerian universities                                                                        89

4.2         Test of Hypotheses                                                                                                              90

4.2.1     Hypothesis I                                                                                                                          90

4.2.2     Hypothesis II                                                                                                                         92

4.2.3     Hypothesis III                                                                                                                        94

4.2.4     Hypothesis IV                                                                                                         96

4.2.5     Hypothesis V                                                                                                                        97


5.1         Summary of Findings                                                                                                     100

5.2         Conclusion                                                                                                                      101

5.3         Recommendations                                                                                                        101

5.4         Contribution of the Study to Existing Knowledge                                      102






3.1:        Population Distribution                                                                                       70

3.2:        Sample size for ±5% and ±10% precision levels where confidence

Level is 95% and P = 0.5                                                                                                     73

3.3:        Sample size for ±5% and ±10% precision levels where confidence

Level is 95% and P = 0.5                                                                                       74

3.4:        Distribution of sample size among selected universities                               75

4.1:        Level of Management Support                                                                           83

4.2:        Descriptive Statistic of how Management Supports Internal Audit                              85

4.3:        Descriptive statistics of Internal Audit efficiency factors and

Performance                                                                                                                        87

4.4:        Variations in perceptions of Internal Audit effectiveness in

Nigerian Universities                                                                                                          89

4.5:        Difference in level of management supports for Internal Audit                   90

4.6:        Regression of management support components on the performance

Of Internal Audit Directorate in Nigeria Universities                                      92

4.7:        Effect of Internal Audit efficiency factors on Management support                              95

4.8:        Perceptions as regards effectiveness of Internal Audit functions               96

4.9:        Effect of adverse management perception and management

Control activities in Nigeria Universities                                                           98








The role of Internal Audit in corporate governance in Nigerian University system is very vital; hence the centrality of Internal Audit in corporate governance particularly in the financial governance and performance of Nigeria Universities cannot be over emphasized. It is an indispensible factor in corporate governance for insuring a sound financial reporting and deterring misappropriation of resources in any organization.

Virtually all guidelines on sound corporate governance practice include recommendations for risk management through internal control and internal audit as a critical part of the governance structure. This relationship can be seen as an intricate part of the stewardship model of corporate governance .Internal controls and audit has been a central concept in the debate on regulating corporate governance and financial reporting since the Cohen Report on the auditor’s responsibilities and especially the tread way report on fraudulent reporting. Omolaye and Jacob (2017).

Internal Audit provides objective assurance by assessing and reporting on the effectiveness of governance, risk management and control processes designed to help the organization achieve strategic, operational, and financial and compliance objectives (IIA, 2018).

Internal Audit can best provide assurance when its resource level, competence and structure are aligned with organizational strategies and when it is free from undue influence, by maintaining its independence. Internal Audit can perform its assessment objectively, providing management with an informed and unbiased critique of governance processes, risk management and internal control. Based on its findings, Internal Audit recommends changes to improve processes and follows up on their implementation. Internal Audit insight on governance, risk and control provoke positive change and innovations within the organization or any University system.

A strong management perception and support of Internal Audit function, proper positioning and resourcing of Internal Audit to provide high-quality professional assurance and advisory services to management is vital. A vibrant and agile Internal Audit function can be a veritable resource support in sound corporate governance structure in Nigerian University system.

The history of University Education in Nigeria started with Elliot Commission of 1943, which led to the establishment of the university college of metropolitan university of London in Ibadan in 1948. This university college was saddled with a number of problems at inception, ranging from rigid constitutional provisions, poor staffing and low enrolment, to high dropout rate. Ibukun (/1997). The University College became independent of London University and later a full-fledged University of Ibadan (U.I) in 1962.

In April 1959, the Federal Government Commissioned an inquiry (The Ashby commission) to advise it on the higher education needs of the country for its first two decades. Before the submission of the report, the Eastern Region Government established its own University at Nsukka, created by its statutes in 1955 but formerly opened in 1960. 

The implementation of the Ashby report led to the establishment of the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife) in 1962 by the Western Region; Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria in 1962 by the Northern Region; and University of Lagos, in 1962 by the Federal Government. Ajayi and Ekundayo,( 2008).

This meant that the university of Ibadan and University of Lagos became the first two federal universities in Nigeria; the other three remained Regional Universities. In 1970, the mid-west state (formerly mid-west region, now Edo State) which was carved out of the Western Region established the mid-west Institute of Technology (M.I.T). The institute was later converted to a University status, the University of Benin in 1972 and was handed over to the Federal Government in 1975. The six Universities established during the period 1960-1972 are today referred to as first generation Universities. Babalolo et al., (2007) remarked that during this period, Universities in Nigeria were under the close surveillance of the government. Appointments of lay members of the Council, and that of the Vice-Chancellors, were politically motivated. The third National Development plan (1975 – 1980) made provision for the establishment of seven more Universities to be located in states where there were none at that time. This gave birth to the “Seven Sisters” or second generation between 1975 – 1979.

The third generation universities were established between 1979 and early 1990s.

The 1979 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria placed university education on the concurrent legislative list, that meant that apart from the Federal Government, State Governments who wished, could establish their own Universities as was the practice before 1975 when university education was put on the exclusive legislative list by the then Military Government. Between 1979 and 1990 the first eight State Universities were established;

In 1988, the Federal Government announced the establishment of the University of Abuja.
According to Ajayi and Ekundayo (2008), the fourth generation universities were established between 1991 till date. They include Federal, State, Nigeria Open Universities and Private Universities. In addition, in the recent past, the Federal Government of Nigeria, granted licenses to Individuals, Corporate bodies and Religious bodies to establish more private Universities.

Sequel to the above, as at February 2019 as released by National Universities Commission, there were a total of forty (43) Federal Universities, forty-eight (48) State Universities, and seventy-nine (79) Private Universities, in Nigeria, NUC Monday Bulletin (2019).

Furthermore, these Federal, State and Private Universities are subject to the same oversight, regulation and accreditation, which means one will be getting the same quality education regardless of whether you opt for a Federal Funded University, State Funded University or a Private Funded University.  

The National Universities Commission (NUC) which was established in 1962 as an advisory Agency in Cabinet Office later became a statutory body in 1974 for the supervision of all Universities in Nigeria. They function as dynamic regulatory agency acting as a catalyst for positive change and innovation for the delivery of quality university education in Nigeria.

This body had Prof. Jibril Aminu as the First Executive Secretary, while currently Prof. Abubakar Adamu Rasheed is the Executive Secretary of National Universities Commission. The Commission’s Governing Council is currently headed by Prof. Shehu Galadanchi.  

In view of the above backdrop of the history of establishments of Universities in Nigeria, these universities have continued to grow with increasing dynamism and complexities in their administrative and management structures and these developments require modern management techniques and control mechanisms to achieve their set objectives. Consequently, Internal Audit policies are often relegated to the dictates of individual Vice-Chancellors without regards to the directions and guides of the Internal Auditor.

This development is quite contrary to the indispensable roles, the Internal Audit Directorates play in the maintenance of the whole system of controls, financial or otherwise. Hence, IIA (2017) defined Internal Audit as Independent, Objective assurance and consulting activity designed to add value and improve an organization’s operation. It has also been defined as “an independent appraisal function activity within an organization for the review of activities as a service to all levels of management. It evaluates and reports on the effectiveness of internal controls, financial or otherwise as a contribution to the organization. Johnson (1996).

Management as a specific organ of any Tertiary Institution is charged primarily with the responsibility of achieving the set objectives of their institutions. In pursuance of this, the management in her day-to-day operation or administration is saddled with the problems of using the meager resources available in optimizing the University’s primary objectives and to maintain absolute control over the activities of these dynamic and complex Institutions.

To achieve these set objectives, management established procedures, rules and regulations known as “Management Control” or “Internal control”.

The establishments of these controls are not more vital to the management, than their implementation, management, therefore, has onerous responsibility of installing a sound and water-tight implementation mechanism to augment their efforts in the whole system of control adherence, which Internal Audit is said to be a Panacea.

In view of this, the way in which management perceives and support their Internal Audit can make or mar their Internal Audit effectiveness and productivity in service delivery.

In addition, the interaction and relationship between the management, Internal Auditors and the Internal Audit function are both complex and important as regards to the performance of the University system. This study therefore, seeks to examine “Corporate Governance in the Nigerian University System; Managements’ Perception of the role of Internal Audit”



In Nigeria, over the decades, both Public and Private Universities, whether conventional, specialized or modern have become complex both in size, structure, scope and mode of operation. Consequently, management of these institutions can no longer maintain adequate surveillance in the whole control net work of activities. This has been characterized by lack of operational efficiency or performance, incessant breakdown of rules and regulations, prolonged strikes, wanton destruction of lives and properties, mismanagement and misappropriation of available scarce resources, fraud, embezzlement, specialized pilferages and loss of Assets among others in our various institution especially in Public Universities.

In the face of the above avalanche of problems and challenges, it becomes worrisome whether management of these institutions make adequate use of Internal Audit as  a veritable and indispensible management control tool to enhance performance.

In most Nigerian Public Universities, managements’ perception of Internal Audit directly affects the operational efficiency and effectiveness of Internal Audit. Some appear to have positive perceptions while others have negative perceptions.

According to Woodard (2002) Perception is the process of attaining awareness or understanding of sensory information or it is the mental image or intuitive recognition of experience when aware of the elements of the environment.

Straker (2008) viewed perception as a reality that has to be managed. Perception is the reality which individual life is based, how we create meaning and hence perceive the world around us. This implies that the perception of management of any universality can make or mar the functions of their whole system of control which they installed. For instance, quite often, there has been allegations of disagreement between the Internal Auditor and the operators of University (management) scarce resources, regarding the Auditor’s proper position or right of access to assets and inquiries into various aspects of the university’s system of control and procedures with such matters always left to the “wisdom” and “discretion” of the individual Vice-Chancellors to resolve. These circumstances tend to frustrate proper enforcement of Internal control in the university system and would have negative effects on operational efficiency.

Internal Auditors, due to sheer disposition of office cannot avoid having a close relationship with their university’s management in their day-to-day activities or functions. They ordinarily would need good support and perception from their management to be more effective and to achieve their audit and organizational objectives but in most cases this is “far- fetched” or a “Mirage” in the university system. Sequel to the above, this study examined Corporate Governance in the Nigerian University System; Managerial Perception of the role of Internal Audit”.


The main objective of this research is to evaluate Corporate Governance in the Nigerian University System; Managements’ Perception of the role of Internal Audit.

The specific objectives are, to;

i.               Assess the difference in the level of management support of internal Audit among Federal, State and Private Universities in Nigeria.

ii.               Dictate the effect of management support on the performance of Internal Audit Directorate in Nigerian Universities.

iii.             Find out the internal audit efficiency factors that influence the level of management support of Internal Audit functions in Nigerian Universities.

iv.             Determine the extent to which managements’ perception of the effectiveness of Internal Audit functions affect management control activities in Nigerian Universities.

v.               Assess the extent to which adverse management’s Perception of internal audit function affects management control activities in Nigerian Universities.



      i.         How does the difference in the level of management support of the Internal Audit among Federal, State and Private Universities in Nigerian vary?

     ii.         To what extent does management support of the Internal Audit affects the performance of Internal Audit Function in Nigerian Universities.

   iii.         What are the Internal Audit Efficiency factors that influence the level of management’s support of Internal Audit functions?

   iv.         How does the opinion of Management, Accountants and Internal Auditors differ on how management perceptions of Internal Audit functions influences management control activities in Nigerian Universities?

     v.         To what extent does adverse managements’ perception of Internal Audit function affect management control activities in Nigerian Universities? 



The following hypotheses were formulated and would be tested to determine their validity or otherwise.

Ho1:     There is no significant difference in the level of management support of Internal Audit among Federal, State and Private Universities in Nigeria.

Ho2:     Management support to internal audit has no significant effect on the performance of Internal Audit Directorate in Nigerian Universities.

Ho3:     Internal Audit efficiency factors do not have any significant effect on the level of management support of Internal Audit functions in Nigerian Universities.

Ho4:     There is no significant difference in the perception of management, Accountants and Auditors as regards to the effectiveness of Internal Audit functions in enhancing management control activities in Nigerian Universities.

Ho5:     Adverse management perception does not have any significant effect on the management control activities in Nigerian Universities. 



The significance of this study cannot be over emphasized. It will add value to the existing body of knowledge as regards to the research  topic. It will also be of a great importance to the following;

      i.                  Management of Tertiary Institutions: Especially Public and Private Universities to re-examine and re-evaluate their perception of their Directorate of Internal Audit in the right direction. This is vital in that, the perception of management as regards to Internal Audit is very crucial to the performance or efficiency of their Internal Audit, hence the need to acknowledge them as partners in progress and not a “rubber stamp” or enemies in the whole system of control.

     ii.                  Auditors and Accountants: It will enable them to understand their management’s perception and support to them. It helps them to improve their inter-personal relationship with their management. A positive management perception and support on Internal Audit will enhance the Auditor’s efficiency, effectiveness, productivity and service delivery in the whole system of control in Nigerian Universities.

   iii.                  Researchers and Academia: This is a reference point; hence, it will serve as a pedestal for a good conceptual frame work and empirical evidence in creating further value to the existing knowledge in this research topic proper or related study.

   iv.                  Public and other Resource Control Managers: These are not left out, they will also benefit immensely from this study, it will enable them to have an in-depth understanding of the function of Internal Audit and have proper perception of them and also appreciate the need for their existence in any given organization as regards to effective internal control.


The scope of this study is limited to Corporate Governance in the Nigerian University system; managements’ perception of the role of Internal Audit.

It covered only six randomly selected Universities from three chosen States out of five States in the South-East Geo-.political Zone of the Federation due to proximity, cost, university and cultural affinity derived from work force.

The states are Abia, Ebonyi and Imo respectively, while the universities used in the study are; the Federal, State and Private Universities in the zone - viz.

1.     Federal University of Technology Owerri, Imo State.

2.     Alex-Ekwueme Federal University Ndufu- Alike, Ebonyi State.

3.     Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike. Abia State.

4.     Abia State University Uturu Abia State.

5.     Imo State University Owerri.Imo State.

6.     Evangel University, Akaeze Ebonyi State.


This study would have covered all the universities in Nigeria, but due to some inherent problems the researcher encountered, he restricted his study to only the South-East Geopolitical Zone of Nigeria. Six notable Universities in three states, out of the five states of the South-East Geopolitical Zone of the federation were covered by the researcher.

These constraints that posed this restriction to the researcher included the following;

The uncooperative attitude of the respondents; some of these respondents were absolutely reluctant to express their views on the research topic proper, with the excuse that it is a classified information

Management and Staff of Private Universities were also not willing to disclose any information in this regard.

Furthermore, some of the materials were secured and required reasonable resources to be expended before having access to them. In addition, even after payment of huge sum of money, some of the files or information may be corrupt.



Auditing: This is an independent examination of an expression of opinion on the financial statement of an enterprise by an appointed Auditor in pursuance of that appointment and in compliance with any statutory obligation.

Corporate Governance is the system of rules, practices and processes by which a firm is directed and controlled. Corporate governance essentially involves balancing the interest of an organization’s many stakeholders, such as shareholders, senior management executives, employee’s, customers, suppliers, financiers, the government and the community.  External Audit: A type of Audit imposed by statute which is carried out by a Public Accountant.

Governance: This refers specifically to the set of rules controls polices and resolutions put in place to direct corporate behavior.

Internal Audit: An independence appraisal function activity within an organization for the review of activities as a service to all levels of management. It is a managerial control, which measures, evaluates and report upon the effectiveness of internal control, financial and otherwise as a contribution to the efficient use of resources within the organization.

Internal Auditor: An employee of an Organization/Institution who is appointed to control and direct the day-to-day affairs of the Internal Audit Directorate. He is a private Accountant and the overall controller of the Internal Audit Directorate.

Internal Check: The aspect of internal control which is exclusively concerned with the prevention and early detection of errors and fraud.

Internal control: The whole system of control financially or otherwise established by the management in order to carry out the business of the enterprise in an orderly and efficient manner, ensure as far as possible the completeness and accuracy of the records. 

Management control: The establishment of rules, regulations, policies, procedures to optimize the organizational primary objectives and to maintain absolute control over organization activities in a dynamic and complex environment.

National Universities Commission (NUC): The Apex body that oversees all the Universities in Nigeria.  

Nigerian Universities: These are Universities in Nigeria; currently there are one hundred and seventy (170) Universities in Nigeria made up of Federal, State and Private Universities.

Perception: This is the mental image or intuitive recognition of experience when aware of the elements of the environments.

Research Design: This is a framework or plan that is used as a guide in collecting and analyzing the data for a study.

University Council: A statutory Apex governing body in any Nigerian University.

University Management: An administrative  body or organ that is vested with the day-to-day running of operation of a university by planning, organizing, directing and controlling the activities of the university e.g. the Vice-Chancellor, Deputy-Vice Chancellors, Registrar, Bursar and the Librarian.

University: An institution at the highest level of education where one can study for a degree or do research.


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